Find out what your choices are in order to back up your sump pump system. You can use a battery back up system or install a generator to keep your appliances running when the power goes out. In order to choose the right back up system, assess your electrical needs before you make your choice.
LESLIE: John in Massachusetts, what’s going on at your house?
JOHN: Well, I just had – I have a regular sump pump. It’s fairly new but I wanted to have a backup system. And I’ve heard different things as far as just having another sump pump handy and a generator or just having a battery backup.
TOM: So you basically have a couple of choices. You can use a battery backup. That’s going to last you a short period of time; you know, maybe an hour or so. Or you can install a generator. You know, we here at our house, we have a backup generator that’s hooked up to a transfer switch so that whenever the power goes out, it automatically cuts on the backup power and that generator has all the sort of the critical things on it that you might need; you know, your refrigerator, your heating system and your sump pump if you have one.
LESLIE: And of course, the generator size that you select will accommodate, you know, one or many of your appliances. So you really need to assess your generator based on what it is that you want to power in an emergency.
TOM: Yeah, there’s a good website – ElectricGeneratorsDirect.com. It’s run by a friend of mine and they have a tool on there that helps you figure out what size generator you need based on how many things in your house you need to power when the power goes off. So there’s a good place to start.
JOHN: Now, what should I do as far as a generator goes? Should I – as far as just having – yeah start it up, just run it for an hour or so? Or …?
TOM: No, here’s what – here’s what you need to do. First of all, I assume you have just a regular gas generator?
TOM: Gasoline powered? Alright, well remember a couple of things. First of all, if you’re going to use a gasoline-powered generator as opposed to a natural gas generator, which is another type, you have to have a steady supply of fuel. And if there’s a power outage, very often the gasoline pumps in the areas around your house are not also going to be able to have the power to pump the gas.
LESLIE: Yeah and you can’t really store gasoline for quite an extensive amount of time at home …
TOM: Yeah, you can …
LESLIE: … so you kind of need to keep refreshing that supply; even if you use a gas extender.
TOM: Well, if you use a fuel stabilizer, it’ll probably last a year. But if you have no fuel stabilizer, it’ll last less than 30 days. So, these are important things to do.
And most importantly, John, you want to make sure that you install a transfer switch. Now this looks like another small electrical panel and it’s where you plug the generator in and then you’d have all the circuits there that the generator’s going to power. This makes it very convenient with just the flick of a couple of switches, without running any extension cords or any of that sort of thing, to be able to repower those parts of your house that you need. So it sounds to me like you’re on the right path. But you need to get the transfer switch installed so that you’ll have an easy way to convert from street power to backup power.